Best 120 Camera for less than $100

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by holmburgers, Oct 2, 2009.

  1. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Hey y'all,

    So I thought it would be fun & helpful in my own search if I posed the question 'What is the best 120 camera that can regularly be had for less than a hundred bucks?' And please, no 620 cameras! :wink:

    I've got my own ideas, but I want to chalk it up to you experienced folks out there.

    Let the games begin....
     
  2. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    If you mean used, probably a Rolleicord III.
     
  3. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    definitely used.
     
  4. Jeff L

    Jeff L Subscriber

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    I got a Zeiss Ikonta 645 folder at an auction for $5 CDN and there was a working Minolta SRT 101 in the lot. The Ikonta is a good shooter with an uncoated 75mm Tessar.
    Jeff
     
  5. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    Depens what you mean by 'best'?

    For $100 dollars you can get some decent TLRs as well as folders. A good TLR should beat most folders for optical quality, but they don't fit in the pocket too well. Having said that, a really good folder with rangefinder and decent lens would be way over $100, as would a semi-pro TLR, so you would need to compromise. A nice folder with rangefinder and budget lens could give you a very useable camera, but you might like to spend the same money on a very simple camera such as a Bessa or basic Ikonta but with a really good optic. Ditto TLRs, some of the Yashikas came with budget triplet lenses and are very useable, but go for the decent glass and you'll bust your budget. Not sure if any SLRs come under $100? Would probably be a beat up and battered if they did, which might mean they aren't a 'best' buy. Also,I've picked up cameras at junk sales for the equivalent of $10 which I've seen dealers selling for $100 because they've been cleaned and serviced - another requirement to factor in to the price.

    Can you narrow your requirements down a bit?
     
  6. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    C220 but you gotta be lucky.

    Managed a 635 and a mat both with hoods and filters for 60GBP total in camera fair. The 635 was ratty and missing the 35mm kit but would shoot film the mat was close to perfect.

    Noel
     
  7. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Certainly,

    A TLR is probably the most logical. Something like a Yashica 635. Basically, I want a decent to good lens and some provision for focusing (coupled). I've got 2 older 620 cameras and they're fun, but respooling is a pain & the inability to see my focus is a big downside. Metering I can do without.

    Basically, I want a shooter (implying good to excellent condition) for the aforementioned price. And I'd be willing to pay more if I was close to jumping into a higher bracket altogether.

    Sorry for being vague.
     
  8. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    I live in the UK and we seem to be really hard done to with second hand prices, so I can't really advise. I definately couldn't get a C220 for less than $100 - but if you can find one where you live, they are great cameras and have the advantage they can be added to - there is a huge back up of lenses and kit. I've got a C330 (which cost a lot more than $100!) and it is very nice to use and has great optics. Definately recommended.

    I have a budget bit of junk called a Halina AI - a $10 junk shop special, but I believe they marketed a version in the US under the Ricoh name, the Ricoh Superflex, which had very good lenses. Someone was raving about them in a similar thread. My version is simple and rugged and I can imagine with a better shutter and optics it would be a good TLR. Then Rolleicords, obviously :smile:
     
  9. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    If you want a 'system' camera, with the option of different lenses, prisms, etc, I would highly reccomend either the Mamiya C3 or C33. Either can be had for very little. They are both reliable cameras with excellent optics available. The shutter on most lenses will likely need a CLA, but it will be cheaper than on most others.
     
  10. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I suppose it would be a wiser investment to go with a system than a 1-trick-pony. I'll keep my eye on said cameras.
     
  11. Denis K

    Denis K Member

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    My only advice is not which camera to buy but what parts of the camera to spend your money on. I would advise finding one that will work day-one without any repairs. Considering that, spend your money on getting a good shutter (all speeds), simple film path, and intact light seals. If you can get that, the rest can be 'lived with'. Having a lot of other built in features beyond that invites as much trouble as it does good, as a lot of these will prove unreliable at best.

    If you have a bit more budget, then you can start thinking about a better lens that will still give good results with the lens wide open.

    Remember, when you get a inexpensive camera, any repair will cost more than you paid for the camera.

    Denis K
     
  12. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    I used to have a Lubitel, which is about as basic as a TLR gets. I think I paid about £15 UK for it. I took quite a few photos with it that I still like. I've seen cheap Yashicas, and even [once or twice] Rollei TLRs for £50-60, not just 'cords, but beaten up but working 'flexes. You have to be lucky, though.

    I've also seen Kiev 60s and Pentacons for that sort of price. Beaten up, but working, again.
     
  13. Larry.Manuel

    Larry.Manuel Member

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    The suggestion of a Rolleicord III is a good one. I won't go on for long, as you seem to be wanting a "system".

    I have the earliest Rolleicord [Art Deco; Model 1] and the latest [Vb]. These are simple, robust cameras, both work well. The uncoated f/4.5 Triotar 3-element lens from the mid 1930s is amazing [but in modern times, sounds like it would be a dog!]. Once the shutter is overhauled [and perhaps replace the mirror if it's very old], it should be trouble-free for decades. Over the years, a lot of great work has been done with a fixed-lens Rollei.
     
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  15. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    Since you say you are willing to consider a little higher than $100, you can get a Mamiya 645J body with 120 insert, 80mm lens and a prism in bargain condition from KEH for $148 plus shipping. I would probably recommend considering the regular 645 for about $40 more, but for the lowest possible cost, I think that the J would certainly do the trick. Who knows, you could do better on eBay, but it would probably take a little doing.

    This would get you into a really viable system, when you want a wide angle or tele lens, you know that it will fit any of the 645 bodies you might want to get in the future. Tons of flexibility and lots of great stuff out there for this system.
     
  16. photomem

    photomem Member

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    I think it might be worth mentioning that you will lose some functionality using older lenses on newer Mamiya 645. Such as AF (Duh) but there are also some metering and exposure issues. In any case though, the cost of a stable 645 system from KEH for 150.00 is pretty phenomenal. I just bought the 645AF from them and spent 700.00, but I love it soooo much.
     
  17. Dave Pritchard

    Dave Pritchard Member

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    For under $100, a Yashica-D is hard to beat. Great lens, especially if you get the later Yashinon. If you can't live with shooting a normal 80mm for 2 1/4" format, you will need to up your budget considerably.
     
  18. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    If you can find an older-model Yashicamat, it's a great fixed-lens TLR. Everyone wants a Yashicamat 124 or 124G, which go for high prices now with the only advantage being a light meter (usually unreliable after all these years). I recently found an almost mint Yashicamat on the auction site for $100. The lens on Yashicamats will be a Lumaxar (on later models renamed Yashinon), which is a fine Tessar-type 4-element lens. I'd put the Yashicamat up against any Rolleicord or early Rolleiflex (high prices because of the Rollei name). I also have a Mamiya 330s with the interchangeable lenses, a great (heavy) camera, but these days you have to expect to pay $250 or so for one in good usable condition with the normal 80mm lens. The Yashicas A to D go for almost the same price as the older Yashicamats, but most have the 3-element Yashikor lens -- might as well get a Yashicamat.
     
  19. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    The Yashica A is a good choice. Always available under $100. I think I paid $25 for mine on ebay. Robust four speed shutter, and good coated Yashikor triplet lenses. Stop the lens down to f8 or so and you'll get good edge to edge sharpness. I suggest you try a TLR like the Yashica A before jumping into a system camera.
     
  20. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    Bronica ETR, ETRS and SQ-A cameras sell for very little on eBay. I bought mine a piece at a time. An SQ-A with a 120 back, an 80/2.8 (S or PS) and a waist level finder is inexpensive, versatile and capable of excllent results. If you enjoy using it you can get other lenses for it in the future.
     
  21. JPD

    JPD Member

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    Best: Rolleicord III with Xenar, or a Yashica TLR with Yashinon.

    Second best: Rolleicord with Triotar or a Yashica with Yashikor.

    Someone mentioned the Yashica A. It's a great entry level MF camera. It has a red window on the back and the four speed Copal shutter. Most of them work fine today, because they are simple! The Yashikor lens is lovely. Soft and dreamy at full aperture, and quite sharp stopped down! Avoid the Yashimar lens, that some of the early cameras had.

    There also are good folders, but a TLR is a less risky buy.
     
  22. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Well I've definitely got a lot to consider. Thanks for all the input!
     
  23. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    A Rolleicord, a Yashica, or a Mamiyaflex, probably. Sometimes a C-22 or C-220 can be had for that price. I lean toward the Mamiya, personally.
     
  24. Larry.Manuel

    Larry.Manuel Member

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    >Best 120 Camera for less than $100

    Reminds me of a cartoon that I saved. One panel. Sign: "Used Computers". Sales guy showing customer the goods. Dialogue: "You won't find a better system under twenty bucks".
     
  25. Denis K

    Denis K Member

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    A really good question related to the original posters question is this:

    Assume you are in a second hand camera shop and they have a simple fully functional 120 camera with good shutter, glass, and exposure system. The owner wants $85 for it. How much would you be willing to bid for a camera just like that on ebay? I realize this is the pig-in-the-poke issue and there really isn't a good answer but based on my experience I would say that you couldn't pay much more than $20 dollars.

    The moral of my story is that if you go the ebay route, don't pay a lot and don't get discouraged if your first camera doesn't work out. You can afford three or four strikes at the cat.

    Just for the record I normally carry a 35mm camera but I bought a $40 Yashica A a bunch of years ago and enjoy it a lot. I normally use it with 400 speed film to keep the shutter speeds away from the slow somewhat unreliable end, and to keep the aperture in the f/8 to f/16 range where the lens does a respectable job.

    Denis K
     
  26. sanking

    sanking Member

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    You could also find a Kiev 60 or Kiev 88 with 80mm lens for less than $100.

    Sandy King